Phosphor Games has already proven that they know how to craft memorable game worlds, and that Infinity Blade style gameplay can easily become refreshing with just a few tweaks, in their previous title Dark Meadow. They've partnered with Zynga for their latest outing, creating the all too rare Zynga game that is actually a game. I give you Horn, an epic, almost Legend of Zelda inspired adventure with simple but engaging swipe combat.
As a boy named Horn, with a helmet that only has one horn, you wake up one day in a strange tower to find a luminous crystal, rusty sword, and even a musical horn. It doesn't take long to come across your first Pygon: the strange golems of metal and earth that seem to inhabit this world. Some of them have a sentience about them while others seem mindless. While fighting one of them, you discover that the crystal you found actually restores Pygon to their original form, i.e. people and animals, when the one you're fighting turns into your Aunt Bell. It's up to you to save the town of Cuthbert and the rest of the world from this mysterious fate, one enemy at a time.
As you venture out into the various levels, you'll quickly get a grasp on many of the games mechanics. You tap around to move, swiping to move the camera. Most obstacles are overcome with miniature quick-time events, such as when you jump a big gap or shimmy along a ledge. You also get a cool hook-shot type device that lets you grapple to ledges, hit distant enemies, or solve puzzles, and your musical Horn can be used to clear away ruins and debris.
Combat is simple enough, as you swipe to strike, hit buttons to dodge roll left and right, etc. Enemies can be stunned in a few different ways, and they all have an obvious but protected weak point that you can repeatedly strike to reveal for quicker victories. In between these quick but fun fights, you'll be scouring the levels for pygite crystals, which you can bring to a forge to craft and upgrade various weapons for a sense of growth and progression.
This game isn't perfect by any means. The level design and puzzle elements get repetitive fairly quickly. The graphics are well done, but can experience glitches on older devices. Actually, on devices older than an iPhone 4S in general, the game can chug along and have problems, although it's been fine on my iPhone 4 so far. Also, the combat may not be nearly as nuanced and complex as Infinity Blade's, but the world is so well-crafted, the dialogue is so well written, and the overall game is just so rich and diverse that the flaws really are quite negligible in the grand scheme of things. It may be a bit pricy, currently available for seven dollars, but this iOS universal adventure delivers tons of great content, and I'd say it's worth every penny.